how to survive when the politicians want you dead
Two weeks ago, I could not focus on work. The news got to me. More and more politicians in the US have been gathering hate against trans people, building platforms centered around anti-trans legislation. Most of these people haven't even met a trans person, yet are so threatened by trans people that they would deny us our existence.
Online, a flurry of worried trans people would scroll in my phone. In person, though, nobody seemed to talk about it. Are people aware of what's happening? I do live in Washington state, which is thankfully progressive on trans laws. Still seeing fellow trans people being denied healthcare just hurts. Am I being overly sensitive?
I took last week off of work. I couldn't focus. In the face of the political onslaught, my work suddenly felt meaningless. I thought it was just me, but I met up with some trans people today and everyone was struggling. A few others also took last week off.
We talked about how to process everything that's happening and what we can do. I'll summarize some key points from the discussion here.
Many of us felt angry at what's happening. We talked about channeling some of our anger into art, to show our struggle. Some liked getting their angst out in a more physical way, like boxing or weight lifting. It can be useful to channel some rage into activism as well, although the entry points for activism are confusing. We felt powerless to tackle the anti-trans legislation targeting states hundreds of miles away.
It's hard to live constantly in rage, and indeed rage combined with a feeling of powerlessness can feel terrible. We also talked about living with love for each other and for ourselves. After all, living authentically and with joy would be the best rebuttal to people saying we can't live happy lives. Some of these people may even have developed transphobia due to a denial about their own identity. Showing them that being trans can be beautiful may help us all lead a better future.
Living with love for each other means caring for our local communities. The most meaningful contributions you can make are often not to a law far away, but to your neighbors. Care for the elderly, plant some trees, help your fellow trans people navigate their transition. Each city can feel remarkably small once you start helping out.
In the past, I would often feel psych myself out of any group I was part of. It's so easy to zero-in on an attribute that singles you out as the outcast. In this room, I'm the only woman, the only immigrant, the only student, the only trans person, and so on and on. However, I realized recently, by being in the group you already intrinsically belong! This is true regardless of how others perceive it.
It really hit me as I was reading the fight for LGBT rights in Ukraine. Ukrainian queer people belong in Ukraine as much as any other Ukrainian. They don't run away, but fight for their rights within Ukraine. The first Trans-March happened in 2021, with 150 participants and 200 opponents, but they marched on.
Finally, we talked about living with love for ourselves. One person mentioned that they would hype themselves up in the mirror and would leave gifts for themselves to discover later. Before trying to take care of others, make sure that you are taking care of yourself. Some days, just living is hard enough and that's okay. It helps to process everything patiently and with self-compassion. In time, you can help others as much as you have helped yourself.